Weekly Report: Bison bank wins crypto license, Nexo and MasterCard to launch a crypto-payments card

  • Nexo Card was termed the world’s first crypto-backed payments card
  • Circle has completed a $400 million funding round
  • Michael Saylor says MicroStrategy’s Bitcoin buying spree will continue
  • Portugal’s Bison Bank snaps the first-ever VASP license to a bank in the country
  • Dogecoin co-founder Jackson Palmer is unimpressed by Elon Musk’s attempt to acquire Twitter

‘Tremendous success’ CEO Michael Saylor hails MicroStrategy’s Bitcoin buying spree

In a recent letter to investors, MicroStrategy CEO and crypto bull Michael Saylor has lauded the decision to flood the firm’s treasury with Bitcoin. He said the company intends to continually “vigorously pursue” this ambition into the future.

In the letter embedded in MicroStrategy’s 2022 Proxy Statement dated April 14, Saylor explained to stockholders that parallel to creating a healthy enterprise analytics software business, the firm has seen “tremendous success” following its decision to buy and hold Bitcoin. The business intelligence firm has been stacking Bitcoin since 2020 and now has approximately 129,218 BTC, purchased at around $30,700 per token.

This scale of supply control makes it the largest holder of Bitcoin, rubbing shoulders with publicly traded firms that have been in the space much longer, such as Block.

Notably, MicroStrategy and its CEO have primarily taken the Bitcoin maximalist route ‘probably’ because Saylor’s Bitcoin enthusiasm flows into his 68.1% voting power in the company. Saylor yesterday told Elon Musk he could get a fraction of Bitcoin if his Twitter takeover attempt fails.

Dogecoin co-founder blasts Elon Musk for attempting a ‘hostile takeover’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been in the headlines in recent days, this time over a one-time offer of $43 billion to buy Twitter. Not all are pleased though and Dogecoin co-founder Jackson Palmer, particularly, is not too happy about Musk’s exploits.

In a tweet sent yesterday, Palmer opined that the notion that privatising a major public social media platform will allow free speech is one that takes “some pretty impressive mental gymnastics.” Terming it a ‘hostile takeover,’ the Aussie entrepreneur insisted that freedom would not come from Musk’s ownership of the platform.

Palmer, who launched popular meme coin Doge alongside Billy Markus, has never been a fan of control or rather centralisation, as he put it in a lengthy Twitter thread last July. Explaining that he would not return to the community, he described crypto technology as “inherently right-wing, hyper-capitalistic,” and created to enrich its propagators.

The attempt by Musk, one of the most significant proponent figures for Doge, to wholly acquire Twitter became apparent after he bought shareholding into the company and then turned down a board seat as it would cap his stake at 14.9%.

Nexo partners with MasterCard to debut an ‘unrestricted’ crypto-backed payments card

London-based crypto lending platform Nexo said Wednesday it has partnered with payments processor MasterCard and embedded payments solutions provider DiPocket (Nexo’s card issuer) to launch what it termed the world’s first crypto-backed payment card. The announcement added that the Nexo Card would be available to specific markets in Europe.

The card would enable users to spend without having to sell their cryptocurrency. Simple as it sounds, the digital assets would collateralise the credit given to the consumers. As a debutant initiative of its nature, this move will redefine the interaction of traditional finance and the crypto era. The benefits are there to see – for instance, this Nexo Card is not troubled with the ‘usual’ credit cards woes, including limits and unsecured credits.

Further, the card, backed by a crypto credit line, would also have no minimum repayments, monthly fees, or inactivity fees, which are characteristics of the traditional cards. Also, customers who maintain a loan-to-value ratio at or below 20% would enjoy a flat 0% interest rate for the service, and there is no fee to be charged for up to 20,000 EUR in credit a month.

The Nexo Card would be accepted at MasterCard’s 92 million merchants, with users able to spend up to 90% of their crypto value in fiat.

Investment manager BlackRock participates in a $400 million Circle funding round

Crypto payments services provider Circle Internet Financial announced on Tuesday that it completed a $400 million funding round. The round saw the participation of BlackRock, Marshall Wace, Fidelity Management and Research, and Fin Capital.  

Following the round, BlackRock became a strategic investor of Circle. The world’s largest asset management corporation will onwards become Circle’s primary manager of cash reserves of its USDC stablecoins. BlackRock will also endeavour to find newer use case applications for USDC in the financial services market.

CEO and co-founder of Circle Jeremy Allaire said that as stablecoins continue to facilitate economic transformation around the world, this funding will help drive the evolution of Circle’s advancement into the future.

Notably, the round happened after Circle pushed back its SPAC merger to December 8, 2022. The new agreement placed Circles’ valuation at $9 billion, double the $4.5 billion reported in July 2021. The merger could yet be postponed to January 31 next year under certain conditions, the press release had noted.

Bison Bank scoops first-ever crypto license to a bank in Portugal

The central bank in Portugal, the Banco de Portugal, has granted the first-ever crypto license to a banking institution in the country. By virtue of the license, Bison Bank has been approved to become a virtual asset services provider (VASP) with solutions such as crypto custodial and trading.

To serve its customers, the bank intends to create Bison Digital Assets – a business division to serve as a virtual asset exchange, which would exist under the larger Bison umbrella. The firm sees the digital asset space as a chance to open up a new array of products and services to customers, which should serve their needs as dictated by demand, Portuguese news outlet Sapo reports.

While specifics on the digital assets that are to be included in the bank’s crypto platform were not disclosed, the products will target high net-worth clientele.

Bison is the first bank to gain the license, but other entities in Portugal have also received it, including crypto exchanges and an on-chain crypto payments service. So far, five institutions have been authorised to offer crypto services.

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Author: Sam Grant